“The real heart of the matter of selection, however, goes deeper than a lag in the adoption of mechanisms by libraries, or a lack of development of devices for their use. Our ineptitude in getting at the record is largely caused by the artificiality of systems of indexing. When data of any sort are placed in storage, they are filed alphabetically or numerically, and information is found (when it is) by tracing it down from subclass to subclass. It can be in only one place, unless duplicates are used; one has to have rules as to which path will locate it, and the rules are cumbersome. Having found one item, moreover, one has to emerge from the system and re-enter on a new path.
The human mind does not work that way. It operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain. It has other characteristics, of course; trails that are not frequently followed are prone to fade, items are not fully permanent, memory is transitory. Yet the speed of action, the intricacy of trails, the detail of mental pictures, is awe-inspiring beyond all else in nature.”
I like these two paragraphs because he essentially explains my disdain with the traditional style of organization. My father is retired military and requires everything to be organized in some chart or flow from lowest to highest or chronologically. The problem for me was the charts disrupt the way I associate things in my mind, and forces me to adopt an unnatural association as he sees fit. I struggle to understand the ideas or concepts we discuss as efficiently as I would have in my own unique format.The second paragraph actually reminds me of my blog posting on how I feel when I think.
Vannevar Bush states that one of the things holding society from utilizing the wealth of information at our hands is how it is organized. By forcing that unnatural way of association on our thought process is not allowing us to use our mind to our full capacity. I fully agree with that because, as illustrated in my above answer, I struggle to retain information in an organized manner that I could remember for years in my more abstract way of association. Even from the time I was young, my mother would tell me to clean my room so I would be able to find things and I would tell her I find things better in my cluttered room and I can’t find anything when I put them where they say it should go. I suppose Bush sums how I feel very well with his conclusion.
“The applications of science have built man a well-supplied house, and are teaching him to live healthily therein. They have enabled him to throw masses of people against one another with cruel weapons. They may yet allow him truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience. He may perish in conflict before he learns to wield that record for his true good. Yet, in the application of science to the needs and desires of man, it would seem to be a singularly unfortunate stage at which to terminate the process, or to lose hope as to the outcome.”
If we cannot move from this unnatural style of organization we might never achieve the ideas he talks about, and reach the potential of humanity as far as the mind goes. The fact that the mind operates at a much faster rate than even the fastest of computers when recalling information, the idea at the vary least warrants consideration.